Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Steve Grand, Ricky Rebel concert review: Santa Ana, Calif.

photo by Mindy Schauer/OC Register
This past Saturday in Santa Ana, Calif., Steve Grand made his first Orange County area appearance and definitely impressed the crowd by taking an organic approach.

The singer/songwriter/keyboardist came to prominence with 2013’s self-financed viral hit video “All American Boy.” It drew major media coverage and has since attained more than 5 million views.

Last year, Grand, 26, put out his terrific debut release of the same name, which was co-produced by San Clemente-based Aaron Johnson (The Fray). The album bowed at No. 3 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart and is among Kickstarter’s most successful campaigns (not released on a major label) to date.

A celebratory, summer-themed “Stay” launched the captivating 50-minute set at the Yost Theater. "Soakin' Wet" and "Whiskey Crime" were both playful fun, while the stripped down "Boy" single gave Grand a chance to display his sultry vocals and instrumental prowess with a piano solo.

Citing Elton John as a big influence onstage, he did a spirited cover of “Bennie and the Jets.” Although it only seemed to register with older patrons, some latter day remakes went over better with younger crowd: a dramatic “Pillow Talk” (Zayn Malik), the tender “Sorry” (Justin Bieber) and riveting “Style” (Taylor Swift), the latter containing some shrewd, male-oriented word changes.

Elsewhere, the dramatic, smoldering “All American Boy” was a sing along highlight. Grand previewed his next album (likely to be “more acoustic based and no guitars,” he said, in a pre-show interview) with the promising intimate ballad “Don’t Let the Light In.”

Cloaked in a rainbow flag during the EDM-leaning closer, "We Are the Night," Grand sang lyrics which resonated deeply for many people following the recent Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida: “today could be our last/we’ll just live as we are/unmoved by the darkness we face.”

Overall, the performance was well worth the wait.

Also on the bill was Ricky Rebel. He brought the house down with an exciting half hour set that featured choreographed dancers. A former member of late ‘90s boy band No Authority - which was discovered by Michael Jackson, signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records and toured with Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child – Rebel was more recently associated with My Chemical Romance.

Backed by the three piece band, the blue-coiffed vocalist did some acrobatic (and sexually suggestive) moves. His glam rock/dance style frequently brought to mind Adam Lambert, Orgy and Marc Almond.

Adding a theatrical flair, Rebel donned a crown and cape for the hard-hitting “Savior.” Other songs from 2014’s “The Blue Album,” such as “Star” and "Boys and Sometimes Girls,” were equally vibrant.

But the true standout was the cover of David Bowie’s (what else?) “Rebel Rebel,” where he sported a Ziggy Stardust-inspired outfit and mimicked the infamous Mick Ronson making-out-with-guitar move.

A version of my review appeared in the OC Register.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Yellowcard to say farewell

photo by Joe Brady
As a longtime fan/media supporter, dating back to pre-'Ocean Avenue' days, I'm looking forward to the new music and hope to catch them on tour. Read more from the press release...

Yellowcard's final album, a self-titled effort, will arrive Sept. 30 on Hopeless Records and the final world tour kicks off in October.

“We wanted to have the chance to share our farewell with as many fans around the world as we could, and now is the right time to do just that,” said the band in a unified statement.

“After countless discussions and months of thought, we have decided that it is time for Yellowcard to come to an end," they continue. 

Yellowcard, the album, was a very personal journey for the band that was self-produced by singer Ryan Key and guitarist Ryan Mendez with Neal Avron serving as executive producer. 

“The motivation behind this was to make sure these songs came from a place that was deeply rooted in us,” they explain, about taking the reins and crafting it from top to bottom. “We wanted to push ourselves to create a lasting finale for this incredible story on our own. It is also why we chose to self-title the album. We were lucky to still have our friend and mentor, Neal Avron, on board as executive producer. We’ve made one of the strongest records of our career and a fitting final creative piece.”

Pre-orders for
Yellowcard are live now at which includes an instant download of the opening track “Rest in Peace”. Pre-sale VIP packages for the tour are also available now. Public on sale will begin June 28.

As the band spends their summer on the Vans Warped Tour before launching into their final stretch, they are especially appreciative to the fans that have been there every step of the way.

“We will be forever grateful to Yellowcard fans all over the world for the opportunities you have given us. We have played shows for nearly two decades on six continents and had the chance to keep recording the music we love year after year. While it is with sadness that we say goodbye, it is with gratitude and amazement that we look back on a career we can be proud of, and were so very lucky to have had.”

Yellowcard is Ryan Key (vocals, guitars), Sean Mackin (violins), Ryan Mendez (guitar), and Josh Portman (bass).

Final tour dates:
Oct. 6 San Antonio, TX The Aztec Theater
Oct. 7 Austin, TX Scoot Inn
Oct. 8 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill
Oct. 9 Houston, TX House of Blues
Oct. 11 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theater
Oct. 12 Tempe, AZ The Marquee Theatre
Oct. 14 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl
Oct. 15 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
Oct. 16 San Diego, CA House of Blues
Oct. 18 Los Angeles, CA The NOVO
Oct. 19 Ventura, CA Majestic Ventura Theater
Oct. 21 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst
Oct. 22 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
Oct. 23 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
Oct. 25 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
Oct. 26 Seattle, WA The Showbox
Oct. 28 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
Oct. 29 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
Oct. 31 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
Nov. 2 Milwaukee, WI The Rave
Nov. 3 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Nov. 4 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Nov. 5 Detroit, MI The Fillmore Detroit
Nov. 7 Boston, MA House of Blues
Nov. 9 New York, NY PlayStation Theater
Nov. 11 Huntington, NY The Paramount
Nov. 12 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
Nov. 13 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
Nov. 15 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
Nov. 17 Charlotte, NC The Fillmore Charlotte
Nov. 18 Jacksonville, FL Mavericks at The Landing
Nov. 19 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade – Heaven Stage
Nov. 20 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Revolution Live
Nov. 22 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues

Shovels & Rope set fall tour, new album

Shovels & Rope - Cary Ann Hearst, Michael Trent - has announced the release of their new album Little Seeds, due Oct. 7 via New West Records, along with a fall tour (see list of dates below).

Like most of the Americana husband and wife duo's previous material, Little Seeds was recorded in their Charleston, SC home studio, and produced by Trent. The pair wrote all the songs and played every instrument. Little Seeds is the follow up to their acclaimed 2014 release Swimmin’ Time, which debuted in the top 20 on the Billboard 200, #5 on the rock chart and #6 on the independent chart.

The duo has appeared on Conan, Austin City Limits, PBS Bluegrass Underground and twice on The Late Show with David Letterman. Shovels & Rope has performed at almost every major U.S. festival, including Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk, Sasquatch, Hangout and more.
Tour dates: 

September 29 – Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre
September 30 – Indianapolis, IN – Vogue
October 3 – Iowa City, IA – Englert Theater
October 5 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
October 6 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
October 7 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
October 8 – Madison, WI – Barrymore Theatre
October 10 – Detroit, MI– St. Andrew’s Hall
October 11 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
October 13 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
October 14 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
October 15 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
October 17 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
October 18 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
October 19 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
October 21 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
October 22 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
October 23 – Charleston, WV – Mountain Stage
November 2 – Los Angeles, CA – Fonda Theatre
November 3 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
November 4 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
November 5 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
November 9 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
November 11 – Bellingham, WA – Wild Buffalo House of Music
November 12 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
November 13 – Missoula, MT – The Wilma
November 15 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory
November 17 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
November 18 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
November 19 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Time for a new live CD from ASIA

The British Live Performance Series from Rainman Records release a live album today (Friday) from 1980s supergroup ASIA today.

It marks the series' eighth installment, with previous live sets from Glen Campbell, Joe Jackson, Belinda Carlisle and more.

ASIA was formed by musicians with a proven pedigree from Seventies mega bands King Crimson (singer John Wetton), Emerson Lake and Palmer (drummer Carl Palmer), Yes (guitarist Steve Howe) and Buggles (keyboardist Geoff Downes). Their music sold millions of records worldwide, thanks to such pop and AOR hits as "Heat Of The Moment," "Only Time Will Tell" "Sole Survivor" and "Don't Cry." 

Carl Palmer once called ASIA: "English rock with a technical side - sophisticated rock mixed in with melodies and singles." Sums 'em right up.

Track listing:

1. Wildest Dreams
2. Sole Survivor
3. Don't Cry
4. Voice of America
5. Time Again
6. Praying For A Miracle
7. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
8. Only Time Will Tell
9. Days Like These
10. The Heat Goes On
11. Go
12. Heat Of The Moment
13. Open Your Eyes


Drowners' second album available now

I was very impressed by the guys' debut album and subsequent performance at Coachella '14. Can't wait until they start a full U.S. tour. Get an update below...

Frenchkiss recording group Drowners release their new album "On Desire" today (Friday). It was recorded and mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer.

The band first came together in summer 2011 when singer/guitarist Matthew Hitt left his native Wales and resettled in New York City. Soon after, he hooked up with Jack Ridley III (guitar, vocals) Erik Lee Snyder (bass) and later, Daniel Jacobs (drums).

Drowners officially emerged in 2013 with the "Between Us Girls" EP that that led to signing with NYC's influential Frenchkiss Records. Full length debut "Drowners" arrived in January 2014.

Nearly two years of non-stop international touring included 2014's Coachella and support dates alongside Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, The Vaccines, Temples, and Foals.

Track listing:

1. Troublemaker
2. Cruel Ways
3. Human Remains
4. Someone Else Is Getting In
5. Dreams Don't Count
6. Conversations With Myself
7. Trust The Tension
8. Another Go
9. Pick Up The Pace
10. Don't Be Like That

Upcoming shows:

7/29 Schubas...Chicago, IL
7/30 Lollapalooza...Chicago, IL

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

David Bowie film 'Labyrinth' to have special U.S. screening

Tickets are now available for audiences to revisit the classic fantasy “Labyrinth” in select U.S. movie theaters when Fathom Events and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment bring “Labyrinth 30th Anniversary” to the big screen on Sunday, Sept. 11 and Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time (both days).

To celebrate 30 years of Jim Henson’s imaginative adventure, this event will also feature a special introduction from Jennifer Connelly as well as exclusive, all-new content.

Tickets for “Labyrinth 30th Anniversary” can now be purchased online by visiting or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in nearly 500 movie theaters through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Directed by Jim Henson, with George Lucas as executive producer and a screenplay by Monty Python’s Terry Jones from a story by Dennis Lee and Henson, “Labyrinth” stars David Bowie, Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (Best Supporting Actress, “A Beautiful Mind,” 2001), and a collection of creatures brought to life by Henson’s Creature Shop, in the story of a girl (Connelly) who must journey through a maze to save her little brother from the Goblin King (Bowie).

Following the theatrical re-release, the beloved fantasy will come to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital on Sept. 20 including an all-new collectible Blu-ray Digibook packaging and limited edition gift set.

Meat Loaf reteams with Jim Steinman for upcoming album

Meat Loaf is readying the release of his new album “Braver Than We Are” on Sept. 16 for 429 Records.

Working closely again with longtime collaborator Jim Steinman—as on multi-platinum selling albums “Bat Out of Hell” and “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell”—Meat Loaf has recorded 10 songs with Steinman, producer Paul Crook and The Neverland Express. 

The Express includes John Miceli (drums), Paul Crook (guitars, loops, synths), Randy Flowers (guitars, vocals), David Luther (sax, B3 organ, strings, horn arrangements), Justin Avery (piano, synths, strings, backing vocal arrangements), Danny Miranda (bass), Stacy Michelle (vocals) and Cian Coey (vocals).

Guest musician Ricky Medlocke provided the slide guitar solo on “Train of Love.” The tracks on “Braver Than We Are” were written by Steinman, featuring the first song he ever wrote. While Crook produced the album, Steinman acted as creative consultant throughout the recording process, working alongside Paul and Meat Loaf from beginning to end. 

First radio single “Going All The Way,” streaming now at, showcases a reunion with vocalists Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito, decades after their first performances on the smash hit “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” 429 Records will release “Braver Than We Are” digitally, on CD and vinyl in Europe on Sept. 9 and the U.S. and rest of the world on Sept. 16.

“Braver Than We Are” is Meat Loaf’s fourth album featuring songs exclusively written by Steinman. With a painting featuring Meat Loaf and Jim together for the first time gracing the cover, the album hearkens back to their hugely successful collaborations “Bat Out of Hell” (1977) and “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell” (1993), which together sold over 67 million units. 

Track listing:

Who Needs The Young
Going All The Way
Speaking In Tongues
Loving You Is A Dirty Job
Only When I Feel
Skull of Your Country
Train of Love